Lance Stephenson working on changing his reputation with Clippers
Lance Stephenson used his first news conference as a Clipper to begin his quest to clear misconceptions about him.
He wore white pants, a white shirt, sparkling chain and black-and-white polka dot sneakers. Stephenson is expected to add athleticism, defense and the ability to play three positions for the Clippers.
Knocks on the 24-year-old guard/forward, however, are lack of chemistry with teammates and that he's not good in the locker room.
"I'm going to work hard on getting the rumors out," said Stephenson, acquired from the Charlotte Hornets in a trade for Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes. "That's not the issue. I'm very good in the locker room. You can ask all the players I've played with. You can ask the coaches. I'm very good in the locker room."
Stephenson quietly talked and rubbed his hands on his pants in front of several dozen reporters and cameras. When coach Doc Rivers talked about Stephenson playing defense, Stephenson nodded his head.
He sounded most excited when talking about growing up in the Coney Island section of New York and how playing basketball there shaped him.
"Playing on the playgrounds when I was younger, you have to be tough to get on the floor," Stephenson said. "You cant be a punk and play in my neighborhood when you're on the floor."
Stephenson should benefit from the tutelage of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul - and maybe DeAndre Jordan if he re-signs with the Clippers.
He seems open to learning from his new teammates.
"I play to win, and I do whatever it takes to win," Stephenson said. "I'm just happy to be with a group of guys who are going to be behind me, great leaders and All-Star players who I can follow in their footsteps. I just want to play with a group of guys who just want to win."
Stephenson averaged 13.8 points in 2013-14, his final season with the Indiana Pacers. He then signed a three-year, $27 million contract with Charlotte last year and averaged just 8.2 points.
Rivers and the Clippers are hoping that was just a one-year thing.
"Lance has proven what he can do. He's also proven he can have a tough year like any of us," Rivers said. "Honestly, you lean on that, your own eyes, analytics. The fact Indiana offered him what they offered him told you they wanted him back. They tried to trade back for him. It tells you something. We did a lot of research, and we like where he came out."
And now Stephenson is trying to help folks change their perception and work on his reputation.